Ablation of integrin-mediated cell-collagen communication alleviates fibrosis

Mugdha Sawant, Fang Wang, Janis Koester, Anja Niehoff, Michele M Nava, Evy Lundgren-Åkerlund, Donald Gullberg, Birgit Leitinger, Sara Wickström, Beate Eckes, Thomas Krieg

Publikation: Beitrag in FachzeitschriftZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungBegutachtung


OBJECTIVES: Activation of fibroblasts is a hallmark of fibrotic processes. Besides cytokines and growth factors, fibroblasts are regulated by the extracellular matrix environment through receptors such as integrins, which transduce biochemical and mechanical signals enabling cells to mount appropriate responses according to biological demands. The aim of this work was to investigate the in vivo role of collagen-fibroblast interactions for regulating fibroblast functions and fibrosis.

METHODS: Triple knockout (tKO) mice with a combined ablation of integrins α1β1, α2β1 and α11β1 were created to address the significance of integrin-mediated cell-collagen communication. Properties of primary dermal fibroblasts lacking collagen-binding integrins were delineated in vitro. Response of the tKO mice skin to bleomycin induced fibrotic challenge was assessed.

RESULTS: Triple integrin-deficient mice develop normally, are transiently smaller and reveal mild alterations in mechanoresilience of the skin. Fibroblasts from these mice in culture show defects in cytoskeletal architecture, traction stress generation, matrix production and organisation. Ablation of the three integrins leads to increased levels of discoidin domain receptor 2, an alternative receptor recognising collagens in vivo and in vitro. However, this overexpression fails to compensate adhesion and spreading defects on collagen substrates in vitro. Mice lacking collagen-binding integrins show a severely attenuated fibrotic response with impaired mechanotransduction, reduced collagen production and matrix organisation.

CONCLUSIONS: The data provide evidence for a crucial role of collagen-binding integrins in fibroblast force generation and differentiation in vitro and for matrix deposition and tissue remodelling in vivo. Targeting fibroblast-collagen interactions might represent a promising therapeutic approach to regulate connective tissue deposition in fibrotic diseases.

ZeitschriftAnnals of the Rheumatic Diseases
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 21.07.2023

Fachgebiete und Schlagwörter

  • Cytokines
  • Fibroblasts
  • Scleroderma, Systemic


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